“Substantial” heart risks up to a year after COVID-19

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Feb 9, 2022 – People who have had COVID-19 are at increased risk of heart disease 12 months after infection, a danger that is substantial and encompasses a range of heart and vascular disorders, a deep dive into the data suggests. federal data.

“I went into this thinking that it would most likely happen in people who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disorders, smokers, people with a high BMI, diabetes, but what we found is something different,” Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, says. . “It’s evident in people at high risk, but it was also clear as the sun, even in people who don’t have any cardiovascular risk.”

Rates increased in younger adults, never smokers, white and black patients, men and women, he says. “So the risk confirmed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to spare almost no one.”

While heart problems were higher in severe COVID-19 cases, the risks and burdens were also found in patients who were never hospitalized, a group that represents the majority of people with COVID-19, Al-Aly says. , who directs the Epidemiology Clinic. Center in the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

“This study is very important because it underscores not only the acute cardiovascular risk associated with COVID, but also the increased risk of chronic cardiovascular outcomes,” says cardiologist C. Michael Gibson, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Given the number of patients in the US who have been infected with COVID, this could pose a significant chronic burden on the health care system, particularly as healthcare professionals leave the profession.”

For the study, researchers used VA national databases to analyze health data on 153,760 veterans with COVID-19 between March 1, 2020, and January 2021. They were compared with another group of 5.6 million of veterans who have never tested positive for COVID-19 and a third group of 5.8 million veterans who used the system in 2017 before the pandemic.

Like the study, published in Natural medicinefound that the risk of a major cardiac event, including heart attack, stroke and all-cause mortality, was 4% higher in people who had been infected with COVID-19.

“People say 4% is small, but it’s actually very, very large if you think about it in the context of the sheer number of people who have had COVID-19 in the United States and also around the world,” he says. Al-Aly.

The results show that the coronavirus “can leave a kind of scar or imprint on people and some of these conditions are probably chronic conditions,” says Al-Aly. “So there will be a generation of people who will bear the scar.” of COVID throughout his life and I think that requires recognition and attention.

With more than 77 million cases of COVID-19 in the US, that effort will likely have to be at the federal level, similar to President Joe Biden’s recent one. relaunch of “Cancer Moonshot,” he says. “We need more and broader recognition at the federal level to try to recognize that when you have an earthquake, you not only deal with the earthquake when the ground is shaking, but you also have to deal with the aftermath.”

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